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  1. #1
    okinawama is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    Default Toddler awake in the middle of the night for 2-5hrs at a time...

    I'm almost embarrassed to write this. I rarely tell people IRL about our sleep issues because they're just so bad, that seeing the shock on people's faces is discouraging and embarrassing.

    DS is 19 months. I have read every sleep book out there and really feel I have implemented all the advice in there. We have a great consistent schedule ( 730 wake up, 1-3 nap, 8pm bed time), we have a good windown, he has white noise and blackout curtains and I've taught him how to fall asleep on his own. However, there are nights where he wakes up, and will not go back to sleep. The night wakings last anywhere for 2-5 hrs. He doesn't cry the entire time, he'll often roll around the rib, cry out for a moment, flop around some more, cry for a minute or two, throw his lovie around, cry for a minute....over and over and over. I have tried rocking him back to sleep, laying next to his crib, giving him pain meds just in case it's teeth but normally I just leave him in there because nothing I do makes a difference anyway (and he's not actively crying the entire time).

    It has always been this way (literally from infancy)! He doesn't do it every night, or even every week, but it's certainly not a rare occurrence. It seems to be getting worse however. This week he's had one night waking of 4.5hrs and last night he was awake for 3.

    Anyone have any idea why he'd be awake for this long? It's completely not normal...right? I've tried talking to his paed about it, but he just basically points me the direction of the sleep books and tells me it's a phase. I'm at a loss, and totally losing my mind.

  2. #2
    ckso is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    That must be hard. My dd had a similar phase but it happened when she just turned 3 so I'm not sure if it's different or whether it'll work since yours is younger.

    With dd she kept telling us she wasnt sleepy and didn't want to sleep. She was old enough to get out of her room and I actually found her roaming the house at 3 am which worried me since the only reason I knew was because I happened to be up pumping.

    We followed super Nannys advice and basically kept putting her back in bed kicking and screaming. We knew she was fine other than her wanting to come out and play. In a very calm voice we say, it's time to go to sleep the first 3 times she came out. After that we just calmly but without words kept putting her back. I want to say the first night lasted 3 hrs and was really hard. 2 nd night 1 hour.

    Now I will give her tools to help so she has a toddler clock so she know when she's supposed to be sleeping or at least resting in her room. We also got the twilight turtle that helps her sleep (she stares or counts the stars)

  3. #3
    Minnifer is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    I posted about this recently so I'm mostly paraphrasing myself ;-) - my DS (17 mos) wakes in the middle of the night and stays awake for 2-3 hours before settling back down - he doesn't really complain or cry, just seems to be trying really hard to get back to sleep by singing, rocking, playing the music thing that's in his crib, etc. and to be unable to do so. It's totally disruptive for both him and me (DD sleeps like a log thank goodness). He's been very good at putting himself to sleep since I ferberized him at 6.5 months, so it's not that.

    I did a bunch of research and in particular read the Ferber chapter on sleep issues and determined that what it probably is, is what Ferber calls "in the crib/bed too long" i.e., I'm expecting too much sleep from him. Ferber says it's common for parents to think babies need more sleep than they really do (for the 12-18 mo range the average sleep requirement is 11-12 hours total including naps so guessing for 19 mos it's a smidge less) and it can cause either struggles at bedtime, or too early wakings, or middle of the night wakings. DS would be happy to sleep 3 hours in the afternoon, but that usually tips his total sleep to well over 12 hours, and that's when he starts up with the night wakings. By my calculation your ds is "in the crib" around 13.5 hours, so it may be that same problem, esp if he may also be a kid who needs less than what is typical anyway. Try an earlier wake up, later bedtime, or shorter naptime and see what happens. For us it works best to adjust the naptime or the wakeup time since I can't bear to have a later bedtime for my kids, LOL. GL!
    Lucky single mama to DD 5/08 and DS 6/11

  4. #4
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    I wonder if you moved up or shortened the nap if that would help? Or eliminated the nap, but moved to an earlier bedtime? Is he getting plenty of physical activity after the nap?

    Sounds tough.
    Green Tea, mom to three

  5. #5
    melwe is offline Silver level (200+ posts)
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    We have a similar problem with DS, although his is usually about 2 hours. It's very disruptive because he is not sleeping, not exactly quiet, but not exactly upset enough to need comforting. I can't usually sleep at all during this.

    It's really hard. I'll be watching for advice, but I have been kind of hoping he'll outgrow it.
    Melanie

    DD 12/06
    DS 9/2011

  6. #6
    mackmama is offline Diamond level (5000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Green_Tea View Post
    I wonder if you moved up or shortened the nap if that would help? Or eliminated the nap, but moved to an earlier bedtime? Is he getting plenty of physical activity after the nap?

    Sounds tough.
    Yeah that. No reason at all to feel embarrassed and am glad you posted. We all have our struggles for sure. I alsowonder if having more physical activity during the day might help to really tucker him out more?

  7. #7
    okinawama is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    Ahhh...that is the sound of me breathing a huge sigh of relief. Hearing supportive comments and that others have been here somehow gives me comfort. I literally smiled as I read the comments, which sounds totally silly, but literally every time I've shared our sleep issues with friends they have suggested that it is something that I have brought on myself and that clearly somehow I haven't sleep trained him well. Thank you thank you thank you for the supportive comments!

    For the life of me, I can't figure out how to do multiple quotes, so sorry in advance that this may be a touch hard to follow.

    Minnifer, I will be referencing Ferber tonight! Thank you so much for the heads up on that chapter in the book. Your LO's problems describe my sons perfectly!!! It would make total sense that his sleep needs will be changing! I will take a look! Thank you!!!!

    GreenTea: I've tried shortening the nap, but never moving it earlier! It's totally worth a shot!

    Melwe: you are SO right! Even though I'm not in there with him, I don't sleep a wink during his night wakings. You're so right, it's incredibly disrupting!

  8. #8
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    Smillow is offline Sapphire level (2000+ posts)
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    My DS was a terrible sleeper for a long time. I don't even remember the specifics, but it was particularly challenging when, just as your DC, he would wake up and not be able to get back to sleep. He evened out around 24 months, when his 2 year molars came in.

    We have had this issue recently (DS is 31/2) and I remembered from years ago that a symptom of low iron is not being able to fall back asleep after waking in the night. I started giving him vitamin drops with iron in his morning OJ. Whether or not this was the issue, it resolved quickly.
    DS 2/09

  9. #9
    okinawama is offline Platinum level (1000+ posts)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smillow View Post
    He evened out around 24 months, when his 2 year molars came in.

    We have had this issue recently (DS is 31/2) and I remembered from years ago that a symptom of low iron is not being able to fall back asleep after waking in the night. I started giving him vitamin drops with iron in his morning OJ. Whether or not this was the issue, it resolved quickly.
    Interesting about the iron. I started DS on a probiotic today, I'll check for iron as well. Wouldn't that be amazing if that did the trick!

    Hearing that you found things got better gives me hope! I have read many sleep articles lately, and many of them talk about how bad infant sleepers grow into bad toddler sleepers, then bad kid and adult sleepers (which of course only adds to the guilt...sheesh!) and I fear that this will be how my nights go forever. I do feel that teething might be behind some of the issues, however, even with tylenol or motrin we still have issues.

  10. #10
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    Default Updates?

    Hi,
    my 18 month old has been doing this off and on for months. We're in a particularly tough patch right now, with him being up at least 3 times/week for hours. At the advice of our pediatrician, we tried sleep training during these episodes, for months, and all that we achieved was making the episodes worse as he became anxious to boot. Now, we sit in a rocker by his crib and wait for the 'episodes' to pass. It hasn't improved the amount of sleep, but at least he, and we, are not distressed. They usually occur between 11 pm- 1 am and he simply cannot sleep. He mucks around in the crib, kicking his legs and chatting to himself (as long as we are in the same room, otherwise he is very distressed), and we just have to sit it out.

    We have tried everything over the past 9 months or so this has been occurring, from later bedtimes, earlier bedtimes, reducing naptime, iron supplements, food diaries, co-sleeping, you name it. He gets loads of exercise and is otherwise healthy.

    I would be incredibly grateful if any moms could let me know what happened with your child's sleep. Did you find a 'cure' or was time the only thing that helped? Or is this still happening years later? Yikes!

    Please, any follow up stories would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks!
    Su

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